Since Anthony was found not-guilty of first degree murder in 2008, she has been barraged by civil law suits. The most recent of these suits is brought by Mr. Roy Kronk. Kronk was a meter man who found the remains of Miss Anthony’s daughter. Kronk is suing Miss Anthony for defamation of character, as her defense team alleged that Kronk himself murdered the child. Later it was alleged by Anthony that her daughter, Caylee had drown in the family pool.
Defamation is a false and defamatory statement about a plaintiff which is heard by a third party by the fault of a defendant. Some kind of damage must result. In this case, defendant Casey Anthony, through her lawyers, said that plaintiff Ray Kronk had murdered a child and this was heard by third parties across several news stations. It’s likely that his reputation was damaged. it’s likely that Kronk will win such a suit, unless Anthony’s can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Kronk did in fact kill the child. That would mean that she committed perjury in saying that the daughter drowned in the pool, but she’s already had perjury suits in the past.
Even if Anthony is found liable for the damages to Kronk, it is possible that she could file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and discharge the debt. Unlike debts to the government, debts to private citizens are almost always discharged. One of the few exceptions to discharge-ability falls under 11 U.S.C. § 523(6) which requires that a willful and malicious injury by the debtor occur to the plaintiff. The case of In re George out of Tampa, Florida holds that some defamation judgments are both willful and malicious. This case found that willful merely means that an act was intentional. Malicious, on the other hand, was not defined by this court as the previous court that found the defamation had declared the defamation malicious, instantly proving it as a matter of law for the In re George case. The ultimate question is whether Casey Anthony could benefit from a bankruptcy filing. The answer to this depends on whether Kronk can prove malice on the part of Anthony. Malice is often thought of as actions arising from, “evil intent”. This poses an interesting question of what motivated Casey to accuse Kronk. Did she actually believe Kronk had murdered Caylee? No. She couldn’t have if she knew Caylee had died in the swimming pool. But Casey didn’t know Kronk, why would she want to frame him for a crime that she knew hadn’t been committed?
A judge will have to determine these answers. If a state court judge finds that Caylee acted with malice when defaming Kronk, she will be unable to discharge this debt. However, if Caylee’s gets Kronk to agree to a judgment of defamation without malice, she could probably file a Chapter 7 and discharge that debt.
If you have questions about the discharge-ability of a debt, contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyer or call us at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation.